We were offered to hitch a ride on a train in order to get to our next destination Ufa. Both our host and his friend work for the railroads and plans were made to go with one of their colleagues on his Tuesday night shift. Now the thing is that little of it was predictable, but me being a train buff and always up for an adventure we didn’t care much about how slow or even which direction the train would be going. We were picked up at 10pm drove to the cargo train station and waited, waited and waited some more and then it happened.
Unfortunately the monthly inspection was due for our engineer and therefore unannounced and only a few minutes before departure an inspector joined for the ride which effectively prohibited us from getting on. Too bad, back to bed instead and back on the road in the morning. We waited for a long time, probably the longest time ever. After about two hours a truck with Turkish plates stopped and took us all the way to Ufa. We had spent five weeks in Turkey and learned quite a bit of vocabulary along he way. That came in handy now, but it wasn’t enough to prevent our driver to invite us to an enormous lunch at an Uzbek roadside cafe.
We arrive in Ufa for sunset and are greeted by Olya our host with dinner waiting on the table. Afterwards she and her friend Rimma take us on an evening sightseeing tour with singing fountains and the local Youth showing off their tuned German automobiles around the national hero monument. Every easter someone climbs this horse statue and paints the Easter “eggs” a language joke that’s funny in Russian/Czech/German but not really in English 😀
Everyone we meet converses in Russian, but speaks Bashkyr or Tatar language as well. These are Turkic and closer to Kazakh/ Kyrgyz (and so is their hospitality!). Next evening somehow I end up being the only male in a martini session/ dinner with five girls taking good care of me. A situation I haven’t been in since living in Moscow ten years ago and that builds up ego much more than the ownership of any German automobile 😀
We really enjoyed our time here, the girls are all energetic, invited us for a hike in the Ural with the promise of Güzal cooking endless bliny for everyone. When we met Olya at work on the last day to hand back the keys to her place she greeted us with a big smile and told us she had just quit her job. We are of bad influence 🙂